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Resources for Equity and Race Conversations

STARTING A CONVERSATION

We know it can be challenging to support students and each other through complex topics. At Foothill, students and staff introduced our Core Values: Success, Ownership, Attitude, and Respect. It is with those principles we have been building our campus and community culture. Each alone and combined together support the understanding that we, as a community, can increase awareness and provide support for having hard conversations. Together, we can build a community centered in principles of equity and humanity.

Throughout the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, we are dedicated to developing students who are global citizens who can engage in complex thoughts and communicate effectively. (MDUSD Graduate Profile in English y en español) MDUSD's School Board passed a resolution "Condemning Violence, Racism, and Injustice and Reaffirming Equity and Humanity as Central Guiding Principles" in addition to updating the MDUSD Board Policy on Equity.

We hope that the resources on this page will be helpful to you and your family as you discuss current events and support your student in processing the complex feelings they may experience.

Unfortunately, most people can identify ways in which our society has been unjust in its treatment of others. While each person may experience obstacles or insults differently, we must be accountable to a society in which some individuals feel consistently targeted, excluded, or unsafe.

Common Sense Media has contributed this article, “How to Talk with Kids About Racism and Racial Violence” by Allison Briscoe-Smith. It provides guiding steps to support tips to use for conversations. 

SHARING RESOURCES

At this time, with both COVID-19 and summer break separating us it is important to provide resources to support our community. If we were together at school there would be opportunities to gather, discuss, and be of support with students and staff. Being apart we are uniting as a District to support our communities with resources. Every day within our communities and world there are examples of harm, hate, and fear. But with that, there are reports daily of individuals using their words and actions to make a difference!

HELPING KIDS PROCESS EXPERIENCES

Research has shown that kids develop concepts of sorting people as early as 3 years old. Here is a brief video with an introduction to discussing race with kids. One of the recommendations is to help young people have a conversation of substance by asking them what the notice.

Pretty Good published "Your Kids Aren't Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup". This list includes links to podcasts, articles, books for children, and even toys.

Common Sense Media hosted a panel discussion entitled "Helping Kids Process Violence, Trauma, and Race in a World of Nonstop News" on June 2, 2020. The video recording is posted to YouTube where closed captions and translation features are available.

The panel includes doctors and authors discussing ways to discuss race and current news items in an age-appropriate way. One recommendation is to start a conversation by asking what your child is thinking in order to start with their understanding and feelings; some people may be feeling intense anger or fear while others may report not feeling anything right now. They recommended to revisit the conversation again in the future to check how they are feeling over time. The panelists provide strategies for important conversations, for identifying feelings and working through them, and for mindful exposure to violent content. Together, we can talk through what we're seeing, how we're feeling, and what we can do.

BEING ANTI-RACIST

"In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist." --Angela Y. Davis

Talking about racial injustices and unearned privileges can be uncomfortable. The National Museum of African American History & Culture provides a helpful introduction to this idea of being anti-racist as well as resources for talking about race. (Here is an article with an overview of resources available on NMAAHC's website.)

In the article "Being Anti-Racist" , there are examples of racism and implicit bias. There are sentence frames for how to have a conversation to address something may have been racist (instead of anti-racist). The article has embedded videos and links to additional resources. 

If you want to learn more, check out this spreadsheet of anti-racist resources.

DON'T BE SILENT

In her article "Don't Say Nothing," Jamilah Pitts notes, "Students pay attention to everything we say and do. They particularly pay attention to our silence." Originally published in Fall 2016, her recommendations for teachers are also relevant for parents/guardians and community members.

As adults, it can be difficult to start a conversation. We don't have to wait until we have all the "right answers." As Ms. Pitts notes, our youth come "with ideas, hearts, passions, mindsets and understandings about their own humanity. They have been students of the news and their families’ stories and experiences without you; they don’t necessarily need you to understand certain aspects of the world." Now is a time to talk with our youth.

"Don't Say Nothing" was originally published in Teaching Tolerance Issue 54 in Fall 2016. Teaching Tolerance is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center with a mission to help teachers and schools to educate youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy.